Phil Lesh & the Terrapin Family Band were the headliners Thursday to open the 21st Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley. That set, which Lesh played on the birthday of his former Grateful Dead bandmate Jerry Garcia, started four days of music from six stages spread across Pendarvis Farm, where several thousand music fans reanimate the dry hillside and nearby woods every summer to take in music on blankets, hay bales, from hammocks and in one of the grounds’ two barns converted to intimate venues.
Along with Phil Lesh, highlights included psychedelic rock band Khruangbin, Courtney Marie Andrews and Washington, D.C., solo project Sneaks.
Courtney Marie Andrews
Phoenix, Arizona’s Courtney Marie Andrews ushered in the first official evening of Pickathon with a set of gorgeous country music that paired pretty perfectly with her soon-to-be tour-mate Tyler Childers, who was playing on the Mount Hood Stage next door. (Clever scheduling, Pickathon.) Andrews’ astonishing voice initially drew me in, but the songs, which sound entirely ageless, were the real revelation. — Mike Dempsey
Pickathon regulars will be familiar with the Woods Stage, a venue situated in a cool forest grove just north of Pendarvis Farm. Hewn into the trees, the stage feels like something out of a fairytale or a dream. So it was especially trippy to see Sneaks, the electronic, post-punk solo project of Washington, D.C., musician Eva Moolchan, play a set there. Wearing Tommy Wiseau-style sunglasses, Moolchan tuned her bass and sang, over and over again, “Remove your beliefs and start again, ‘cause all I wanna do is start again.” It’s easy to imagine listening to Sneaks on a portable CD player, or a mixtape, or at a D.C. club. But I loved getting to see Sneaks in this leafy setting. Moolchan’s latest album, “Highway Hypnosis,” blends drum machines and bass for a unique sound that combines dub, hip-hop and Young Marble Giants. — Isabel Lyndon
The Beths, of Auckland, New Zealand, treated an extremely enthusiastic (and well air-conditioned!) Friday night crowd to a set of delightful and impeccably crafted pop-punk tunes. Hearing the energy they brought to songs from 2018’s very great “Future Me Hates Me” was a real treat, but the opportunity to hear some brand new material was a welcome surprise. Frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes has a knack for writing monster hooks, and based on tonight’s evidence, the next record is going to be a doozy. — Mike Dempsey